Workers from Santa Anita Park Demonstrate to Resume Live Racing

April 28, 2020

3,500 Workers and Their Families Would Be Affected by any Closure of Santa Anita

Los Angeles, Ca.- On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at 11:00 am at the meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (500 W. Temple St. Los Angeles, Ca 90012), workers from the horse racing industry will organize a car caravan demonstration requesting that County officials resume live racing at Santa Anita. On March 27th “spectatorless” live racing was prohibited as a non essential business by order of the Los Angeles County Health Department. On April 10th, 2020 Santa Anita officials presented a plan to the County to conduct live racing without fans. Live racing provides the financial backing that currently supports more than 750 workers living and working at Santa Anita. 

“We are asking the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Department of Health to allow us to resume “spectatorless” live racing at Santa Anita. Hundreds of workers risk losing income, housing and health benefits without the financial support that live racing provides. We are making a responsible request to protect public health and the well-being of horses and workers,” stated organizer and worker advocate Oscar de la Torre.

Since opening in 1934, Santa Anita has provided hundreds of thousands of jobs to Californians who love their professions as grooms, stable attendants, watchmen, hot walkers, exercise riders, jockeys, assistant trainers and trainers. These “back stretch” workers are the invisible foundation of an industry that seeks to continue as an American institution that provides opportunities for so many employees to support their families. 

Workers and horse racing supporters point to the fact that there have been ZERO reports of positive COVID-19 infections at Santa Anita and live racing at Los Alamitos Race Track (under the jurisdiction of the Orange County Board of Supervisors) has continued unabated with ZERO reports of workers testing positive for COVID-19. Santa Anita has implemented strict protocols to strengthen public health and safety for workers and horses. Many workers on the back stretch are self-quarantined and have access to a medical clinic on site. Live racing does not increase the risk to the activities that the Los Angeles County Health Department has already allowed at Santa Anita.

Horse racing can lead the responsible re opening of professional sports by hosting televised competitions without spectators. “Spectatorless” sport competitions such as live horse racing can protect public health and the thousands of unionized and non-unionized jobs that keep our families safe and secure. Of all professional sports, horse racing provides a best test case for a responsible re opening of professional sports because unlike other sports, our equine athletes cannot be infected and cannot transmit COVID-19. Furthermore, the science on COVID-19 transmission shows that people are more susceptible to infections in enclosed environments and Santa Anita operates with more than 300 acres of open space.  

Currently, many other union jobs in horse racing have experienced lay-offs causing workers to lose health benefits and wages. “It is a greater threat to the well-being of workers to lose their income, housing and health benefits and public health will be at greater risk having more people homeless in the middle of a pandemic, “stated Jayro Lopez, assistant groom at Santa Anita. 

“We are making a responsible and reasonable request to protect public health and the well-being of horses and workers. California horse racing can help power our economic recovery. Resuming live racing, with the strict protocols proposed by Santa Anita and approved by the Los Angeles County Health Department, will be a positive step in leading the responsible economic recovery of the County of Los Angeles, stated hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert who will be joining the demonstration.   

More than 77,000 Californians are directly employed in California’s horse industry.  

Santa Anita Press Release

Photo: Santa Anita Park

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